Why BIO-WHEEL Filters are so GOOD!

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Joliet Jake created the topic: Why BIO-WHEEL Filters are so GOOD!

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS MY PERSONAL OPINION AS A FORUM MEMBER AND DOES NOT REFLECT NECESSARILY THE OPINIONS OF THE MODERATOR OR OTHERS HERE. It is based upon MY years of keeping tropical fish, reading and first hand experience....

I wanted to add my thoughts about why a Bio Wheel Filter excells at Biological Filtration, better then other types of filters (size for size and purely from a biological stand point, not comparing it as a complete filtration solution). Let me explain:

First, remember that I am only talking about Biological Filtration here as there are two other parts of filtration namely Mechanical Filtration (the removal of solid wastes) and Chemical Filtration (the removal if impurities or chemical compounds).

The secret of Biological Filtration is the growth of necessary (good) bacteria to complete the nitrogen cycle. This is best accomplished and achieved by having a suitable medium for the good bacteria to grow on (such as the rotating wheel) as it dips into and out of the water (a.k.a. wet/dry) which introduces plenty of fresh oxygen so vital to the process. These good nitrifying bacteria will grow in other places in the aquarium (under water on the gravel / substrate etc.) and on other filter medias too (in canister filters for instance) but not with as great a number. That is because your gravel and canister filter is limited to the amount of free oxygen that can be carried in the water itself (H2o remember?). So, you will need a great surface area in your canister filter to achieve or come close to what even a small Bio Wheel can provide.

Now, the good news is that Canister filters tend to use special shaped medias that have a great amount of surface area for the good bacteria to grow but still that growth and exchange is limited by the small amount of oxygen that is present in the water itself. Bio-Wheel filters on the other hand give you big bang for the buck (biologically) however they are often rather limited on the mechanical side of filtration, usually offering a small pad or sponge to collect dirt and debris which need to be cleaned or replaced very often.

There are even hybrid filters on the market today that offer better air exchange. These are typically called "wet/dry filter" (a.k.a. trickle filter) which uses gravity to syphon water from the tank thru a hang on prefilter. It then directs tank water through a suspended biological filter media which is open to constant air contact (dry filter). They may also contain a submersed mechanical or biological filter (wet filter) and usually have extra space to add various chemical medias if needed. A pump then delivers the filtered water back to the aquarium. Since the biological media is in constant contact with free air, it does not consume oxygen needed for the biological process from the aquarium water, allowing a higher level to be available for your fish.

There are a few filters on the market too which are less expensive then the above referenced "wet / dry" type but which combine the benefits of bio-wheel with the dirt holding capacity of a canister filter.

Here's an example of a combo package Bio-wheel & canister filter: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=3598&ref=3969&cm_mmc=LiveAquaria_DFS_Links-_-Fish_Supplies-_-LiveAquaria_Gen_Page-_-Filters&subref=AA&N=2004+22777

Here's an example of a (Canister type) "Wet/Dry" Filter: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=3639&N=2004+22778

Here's another (sump type) of "wet/dry" example: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=3589&N=2004+22778

Pluses and Minuses:
Bio Wheel Filters are usually made (flow sized)for smaller aquariums as a solo stand alone filter, usually not much more then a 55 gallon tank. There are some exceptions such as sump type bio wheel units and all inclusive hoods with multiple bio-wheels built in which can handle larger aquariums.

Canister Filters are generally made for higher flows as required by larger aquariums (and almost a requirement for keeping Oscars). In general, a Bio Wheel filter (or even two of them) will not suffice for an Oscar tank alone. But if you can supplement your canister filtration with a Bio Wheel too, that is better yet.


With Oscar Fish, you really need more filtration rather then what might normally be enough for a typical community type of aquarium. These fish are really messy and you need to do regular water changes and provide generous amounts of filtration too. Plan to provide 5-6 times your aquariums capacity in GPH (Gallons per hour) of the filter's pump. Example: for a 55 Gallon aquarium, look to provide a flow through the filter of approximately 250-300 GPH as a bare minimum.
You can have more then one filter running and that is often the best solution. (Oscars don't mind good water flow and movement and you can't over filter your aquarium.) Consider running a seperate secondary Bio-Wheel filter (I really like them) in addition to a nice canister filter. NOTE:If you can only afford ONE filter for your Oscar aquarium, my recommendation would definitely be a "canister" filter just based upon its higher flow and dirt holding capabilities. Then (If possible) add a bio-wheel for increased secondary Biological benefits.

Don't forget to also get yourself a gravel vac or water "Python" as they are called to vacuum your tank bottom as you do water changes. So much debris and fish waste accumulates down there that never makes it into your filters and needs to be removed manually each week or water change.

Lastly, remember you don't always need to use Chemical filtration in your filters. (Loose Carbon or Carbon pads). These should not be used routinely and only installed to remove a dangerous substance once detected. Important to remember that you need to remove and discard them after a week or two as otherwise they can and will begin to leach the toxins they collected right back into your aquarium water. I hope this is helpful to some of you who are starting out with yout Tropical Fish.

NEVER EVER WASH YOUR BIOLOGICAL MEDIA AND DO NOT REPLACE IT LEST YOU START THE TANK CYCLE ALL OVER AGAIN. If it begins to dry out (as you work on your filter) the "good" bacteria will die so don't let that happen. "Float" your bio-wheel right in the aquarium as you work on the rest of the filter etc. Only if a bio-wheel stops spinning completely should you then lightly rinse it off quickly in a bucket of used tank water. Never use TAP water which will kill the good bacteria. Loose bio-medias found in Canister Filters can be lightly rinsed off on occasion (quickly swished) in a used bucket of tank water, but only to remove large chunks of debris trapped among it. In the case of biological filter media,"dirty looking" is good!

Ken, 51, NJ-USA (2 Tiger Oscars)
Need to give away one healthy 1 year old Oscar if you know of anyone interested. See the adoption thread for photos. Thanks!
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Elsabe replied the topic: Re:Why BIO-WHEEL Filters are so GOOD!

Thank you for a very interesting version Jake. I am a bit worried - I've got 2 filter systems in my big Oscar tank. I'm not familiar with the name of the 1 pump (it is a pump I've bought with another tank) but it contains a filter and some other media (must go and check on the name). The other filter is what, I think, is called a "cannister filter" - it is mounted on the outside of the tank - and circulates the full water contents of the tank about 5 or 6 times per hour. It's called a "Cascade". My question is - this Cascade contains 2 filters. The one filter is a material type filter with carbon in it - it needs to be replaced every ± 6 weeks. With my weekly changes I normally wash the filters in the water taken from my tank. My question: is it bad to have a carbon filter as part of the filtration system, given that it is regularly cleaned and changed when it is needed? (my tank is 1.2 metres and holds 240 litres) See photo in the gallery (tanks)
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Elsabe replied the topic: Re:Why BIO-WHEEL Filters are so GOOD!

One more question: who manufactures these bio-wheel filters? I don't seem to find it around here, maybe I can get someone to order it for me.
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Joliet Jake replied the topic: Re:Why BIO-WHEEL Filters are so GOOD!

Elsabe wrote:

Thank you for a very interesting version Jake. I am a bit worried - I've got 2 filter systems in my big Oscar tank. I'm not familiar with the name of the 1 pump (it is a pump I've bought with another tank) but it contains a filter and some other media (must go and check on the name). The other filter is what, I think, is called a "cannister filter" - it is mounted on the outside of the tank - and circulates the full water contents of the tank about 5 or 6 times per hour. It's called a "Cascade". My question is - this Cascade contains 2 filters. The one filter is a material type filter with carbon in it - it needs to be replaced every ± 6 weeks. With my weekly changes I normally wash the filters in the water taken from my tank. My question: is it bad to have a carbon filter as part of the filtration system, given that it is regularly cleaned and changed when it is needed? (my tank is 1.2 metres and holds 240 litres) See photo in the gallery (tanks)


in your cascade canister filter, if you have filter pads that contain carbon, it
s ok to have the carbon there as long as you change it out periodically. You said you change it every 6 weeks plus or minus, and that is fine. Leaving it in for extended periods could cause harm as the chemicals that the carbon first trapped will eventually begin to be released back into your water, so thats the important part. (change it periodically). Now, you really don't need carbon in your filter all the time so consider finding a cheaper or less expensive filter pad that doesn't contain the carbon. Only after medicating a tank or if you have a build up of ammonia should carbon then be used to remove it. I'm assuming the other filter media in your filter is the biological media or pad correct? That should not be changed out, only lightly cleaned off periodically with tank water.

Here's some bio wheel filters. The last one is what I have on my tank now.

www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=14448&N=2004+22769

www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=12320&N=2004+22769

www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=3867&N=2004+22769

www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=16730&N=2004+22769

Ken, 51, NJ-USA (2 Tiger Oscars)
Need to give away one healthy 1 year old Oscar if you know of anyone interested. See the adoption thread for photos. Thanks!
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Joliet Jake replied the topic: Re:Why BIO-WHEEL Filters are so GOOD!

PROOF POSITIVE!!!!!!!!!


Which Is the Best Biofilter?
by Timothy A. Hovanec, Ph.D.

The most often asked question in fishkeeping and the aquarium hobby is "which filter is best?" Translated into reality this question becomes "which filter can I get so that I never have to change water, never have to clean the filter components, and can put as many fish and as much food into the aquarium as I wish?" Of course, this filter does not exist. However, there are many good filters in the market place.

To properly answer the question the hobbyist needs to consider several factors as the answer to which filter is best may not be the same for every person. Many manufacturers do strive to make a quality product at a reasonable price which can give the fish owner a good chance to keep their fish healthy for a long time. However, every filter needs maintenance and servicing which means the hobbyist must interact at some level with the filter. The time required for these activities can vary from a few minutes each week to an hour a day depending upon the type and size of the filter. However, for the hobbyist it can be hard to make an informed decision about which filter to use because some manufacturers do overstate their filtration claims and promise much more than the filters can actually deliver.

To help with filter selection it would be good to have the various types of filters compared so that their strengths and weaknesses can be evaluated. These types of studies are rare. But this month, I will review the results of one such study which were recently published. The] study is entitled: "Evaluation of various biofilters in an intensive recirculating fish production facility". The authors are P. W. Westerman, T. M. Losordo and M. L. Wildhaber. The paper was published in 1997 in the Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers Volume 39, issue 2 pages 723-727.

In this study they compared the following types of biofilters: Upflow sand filters, fluidized bed sand filters, floating bead filters and rotating biological contactors (RBC) in various combinations. Each filter was connected to a tank containing 18,900 liters of water which was stocked with a hybrid red tilapia. Freshwater exchange on a daily basis was 9 to 11% of the total tank volume. The actual set-up was as follows:

Tank 1 had four upflow sand filters
Tank 2 had one upflow sand filter and two fluidized bed sand filters
Tank 3 had two floating bead filters and
Tank 4 had one upflow sand filter and one RBC. Water testing was for pH, carbon dioxide (CO2), total ammonia-nitrogen (TAN), nitrite-nitrogen (NO2-N), dissolved oxygen (DO), and suspended solids (SS) was performed for each filters on each tank twice a week for 5 months. Water flow rates through the filters were also measured. One time water samples were taken every 4 hours for 24 hours to investigate the diurnal water quality pattern.
The result were as follows:
Ammonia Oxidation: The filters were evaluated in terms of their ability to oxidize ammonia (or nitrite) by measuring the difference between the ammonia concentration on the influent and effluent sides of the filter. This difference was then expressed as a percentage reduction of ammonia (or nitrite) for each day measured and then averaged over the course of the test. Thus a higher reduction means more ammonia (or nitrite) was oxidized as the water passed through the filter. Therefore, a higher reduction is better.

Average ammonia reduction was lowest in the fluidized bed filters (Tank 2) with an average ammonia reduction of 24 percent (the average was 29 and 19 percent for the two filters). The performance of the sand filters (Tank 1) and the bead filters (Tank 3) were nearly identical with average ammonia reduction of 31.25 (with individual filter averages of 40, 27, 39 and 19 percent) and 31 percent (36 and 26 percent for the two filters. The RBC (Tank 4) had the greatest ammonia reduction average of 67% over the course of the test.

Nitrite Oxidation: Nitrite (NO2-N) concentration was higher in sand and bead filters (Tanks 1 and 3 , respectively) over the course of the test. The mean reduction of nitrite for the four sand filters on Tank 1 were 6, -1, 54 and 9 percent of the influent nitrite level. It seems that sand filter number 2 never really established the ability to completely nitrify. The percent nitrite reduction for the two bead filters of Tank 3 was 0 and 6. Again, one filter seemingly failed to establish complete nitrification. The fluidized bed filters (Tank 2) operated more effectively, reducing nitrite 19 and 16 percent. The RBC on Tank 4 was the most effective in reducing nitrite with a mean percentage of 59.

Other results: The researchers noted other performance particulars with some of the filters. The sand filters and the fluidized bed filters tended to lose sand which had to be periodically replaced. Only the bead filter removed significant amounts of suspended solids.

Conclusions from this test: This test showed that the RBC was able to reduce more ammonia and nitrite than the other filter evaluated "thus making it appear to be the most efficient remover of both TAN and NO2-N."
The researchers also noted the following conclusions about the various filters:
Sand Filters: These "filters became clogged with solids and back-flushing became a time-consuming process." They noted that this system had operating problems and water quality was poor in the latter stages of the test. Maintenance was also a problem with these filters.

Upflow Sand Filter and Fluidized Bed Filters (Tank 2): Fish growth was good in this system but sand would flush out of both types of filters (so it had to be replaced) and there were problems getting and keeping the sand beds in the fluidized state. The sand bed in both filter types packed and "the upflow sand filter media began to 'gel' with a bacterial slime."

Floating Bead Filters: (Canister Filters) After 100 days of operation these units had problems because they retained solids which lead to high TAN concentrations and poor water quality. Cleaning the systems did not significantly improve the situation.

Rotating Biological Contactor: "Performance of this system was the most consistent of all of the systems. The RBC proved to be the most reliable nitrifying filter."

The researches noted that all four types of biofilters can be good biofilters but they have different operational and maintenance requirements which cannot be ignored if they are to continue to operate. There were significant differences in the amount of time and effort required for maintenance for the various filters.

The situation is no different for hobbyists. There are smaller versions of the types of filters used in this test available to hobbyists. Generally, they operate just like these larger units. They have the same benefits, and the same problems.

In reality, almost every biological filtration system can do a good job nitrifying if they are maintained. The question becomes how much time and energy do you want to expend maintaining the filter. It is like owning a car, sure you would like a Ferrari but can you really afford the time and money maintaining and servicing it? A nice Toyota will get you to the same place and is a lot more reliable and less expensive to own over the long haul.

With aquarium filter you can spend a lot money for a 'state-of-the-art system' and you can also spend a lot of time and money maintaining it. Or you can go with a simple reliable filter system using principals shown to give reliable, dependable nitrification. You will give just as good (or better) water quality and the time and money you save can be spent on other things - like buying more fish!

Therefore, when asking yourself 'what is the best filtration system' make sure you consider the time you are willing to devote towards maintaining it, as the most expensive filter poorly maintained will not provide the level of water quality necessary for the health of your fish. Simple systems based on proven principals, which are effective and efficient, are available to all hobbyists.

©1997, Timothy A. Hovanec, Ph.D.
Originally published in Aquarium Frontiers, Dec. 1997

<< Back to Dr. Tim's Articles Index

Ken, 51, NJ-USA (2 Tiger Oscars)
Need to give away one healthy 1 year old Oscar if you know of anyone interested. See the adoption thread for photos. Thanks!
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Joliet Jake replied the topic: Re:Why BIO-WHEEL Filters are so GOOD!

Sorry, I'm on a roll!~

Biofilter Surface Area: It Must Be Effective
by Timothy A. Hovanec, Ph.D.

For many hobbyists, the biological filter with the largest amount of surface area is obviously the best one. But in reality, to make a fair comparison of biological filters, it is their effective surface area that must be determined. Effective surface area is the area that is actually available for the colonization of the nitrifying bacteria. The effective surface area can be much smaller than the actual surface area of the filter. Let's examine why.

First, having more surface area does not automatically mean you will have more nitrifying bacteria. Most people assume that the number of nitrifying bacteria increases in direct proportion to the amount of ammonia produced in the aquarium. Actually, in a scientific sense, this might not be the case. It is not known for certain whether continuing to add ammonia means that the population of nitrifying bacteria continually increases, or if the numbers level-off and those bacteria work more efficiently. More efficient is defined as the same number of bacteria oxidizing more ammonia in the same amount of time. Thus, some very important pieces of data critical to our discussion are missing, which shows that there is still much to be learned about the ecology of nitrifying bacteria. But what is known is that the nitrifying bacteria (or their efficiency) will not continue to increase unless there is a concurrent increase in ammonia production--the source of their energy.

When comparing the surface area of biological filters, it important to consider factors which can limit the effectiveness of the biological filter and possibly negate the larger area some filters have. Oxygen is of prime importance. The rate at which an individual or colony of nitrifying bacteria can oxidize ammonia is determined by the amount of oxygen which is available. Therefore, biofilters in areas of less oxygen need more surface area to support the larger numbers of bacteria required to do the same work as biofilters where the bacteria have more oxygen available to them. This is the case, for instance, when comparing undergravel filters to wet/dry filters. Undergravel filters have been the de facto biological filter for many years. They have a great amount of surface area, but they are inefficient compared to other types of biological filters. Wet/dry filters perform the same work of undergravel filter with less surface area because their media is exposed to the atmosphere which has a much greater amount of oxygen than that available in the aquarium water. In this way fewer (or more efficient) bacteria, and less area, is needed to accomplish the same amount of work. As is often noted, only the upper inch or so of gravel on an undergravel filter contains nitrifying bacteria which is due in part to the reduction in oxygen as water passes through the gravel. Thus, when calculating the effective surface of an undergravel filter, only the top portion of the gravel layer can be used--not the entire volume.

The biological filtration media in canister filters suffer from this oxygen dilemma too. When clean, the media receives a lot of oxygen via the aquarium water. But as the canister clogs and the flow rate is reduced, less oxygen is brought to the nitrifying bacteria while at the same time more organics are trapped in the canister consuming oxygen. This double negative significantly reduces the effective surface area of the biofilter media. Two other factors which limit the effective surface area of biofilters are clogging and competition with other bacteria. If the biofilter also doubles as a mechanical filter, it will clog because that is what mechanical filters do. As it becomes progressively more clogged, less and less area is available for the nitrifying bacteria as that area is not exposed to the aquarium water. This part of the media has become a dead spot. Of course, when the area is cleaned, such as during a siphon cleaning of an undergravel filter, the nitrifying bacteria can re-colonize it. But this leads to cyclic nitrifying populations as they first increase when the area is clean but then decrease as the area clogs. This can manifest into periodic times of high ammonia concentrations in the aquarium. This is why it is important to keep the biological filter area clear of organic matter. Media prone to clogging has a less effective biological filtration surface area.

Another reason to reduce the organic material is competition from heterotrophic bacteria for the space occupied by the nitrifying bacteria. Heterotrophic bacteria are responsible for the breakdown of organic material into simpler compounds and elements (called mineralization). These bacteria grow on and around particles of debris such as solid fish waste, uneaten fish feed, dead plant material and so on. If this material is present on the biofilter media, the heterotrophs will grow on it. The problems are that they grow much faster than the nitrifying bacteria and, in fact, can grow over and smother the nitrifier colonies. In a 24 hour period, a single nitrifying bacterium will double forming two bacteria. In that same time period, a single heterotrophic bacterium can reproduce to a population of 2,361,183,241,434,820,000,000 bacteria; that's over 2 sextrillion--talk about compound interest! Further, the heterotrophs are aerobic like the nitrifiers. Thus, they are consuming oxygen that otherwise would be available to the nitrifiers. Lastly, the principal waste product is ammonia. It is clear, that everything should be done to discourage the growth of heterotrophic bacteria, especially on the biofilter media. This can be accomplished by removing the organic material they require. Now obviously if the biological filter media is also the mechanical filtration media, the nitrifying bacteria are going to be reduced when the filter is cleaned or eliminated when it is thrown away (this is the reason the mechanical filter should be completely separate from the biological filter). For our discussion on effective biofiltration area, it means that a biofilter which is constantly clogging and needing cleaning is not a stable environment for the nitrifiers and its area not as large as it first may appear.

An obvious but often ignored consideration in determining effective biological filtration surface area is that the media must get wet. Some types of wet/dry filters suffer from the tendency of the water to wick down the sides of the sump bypassing the filtration media. Poorly designed drip trays and rotating spray bars also reduce the amount of media in contact with the water. The media is there, but it is not getting wet and, therefore, no nitrifying bacteria can grow on it. Biofilter media that is not in contact with the water is useless and that media area cannot be considered in the calculation of surface area available for biological filtration.

The determination of biological filtration area must also consider aquarium water chemistry. For instance, the assimilation and reproduction rate of the bacteria is directly tied to the water temperature. The colder the water, the slower the bacteria work and, therefore, more surface area may not automatically mean less ammonia because the bacteria can only grow so fast. In the case of low temperature, it will take months for the nitrifying bacteria to reach a population level that can remove a significant amount of ammonia.

Another factor limiting the efficiency of the nitrifying bacteria is pH. At low pH values, the rate at which the bacteria oxidize ammonia is much reduced. This may be due to the fact that the ammonia is in the ionized form (ammonium-NH4+) and the bacteria utilize the un-ionized form (ammonia-NH3). It also could be that the acidic environment is physiologically unhealthy for the bacteria. In either case, the ammonia concentration increases and until water conditions change, surface area is not a prime concern.

How does temperature and pH relate to a calculation of effective surface area? If the biological filter media is under the water, the bacteria must cope with the ambient water temperature and pH. But if the media is not completely submerged (i.e., in the atmosphere such as a wet/dry rotating or trickle filter) the localized conditions on the media are different as the room air will affect the water temperature and pH. Therefore, the media will be more conducive to the nitrifying bacteria and they can work more efficiently. Once again, the effective surface area is much different than the actual media surface area.

What should be clear from this discussion is that not all biological filters are equal and they cannot be evaluated by only looking at total surface area. To fairly compare different types of biological filters, one must consider both their biological filtration efficiency and their surface area. Furthermore, some biofilters will require more maintenance than others. Undergravel filters, for example, do work but they must be serviced more often than other biological filters in order to support the same fish load. When considering your next biological filter, consider the points addressed and chose a filter that matches the time you are willing to devote to maintenance and service.

©1996, Timothy A. Hovanec, Ph.D.
Originally published in Aquarium Fish Magazine, Apr. 1996

Ken, 51, NJ-USA (2 Tiger Oscars)
Need to give away one healthy 1 year old Oscar if you know of anyone interested. See the adoption thread for photos. Thanks!
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Elsabe replied the topic: Re:Why BIO-WHEEL Filters are so GOOD!

Thank you so much Jake, I have not read everything yet (working for 2 senior advocates is quite time consuming :-) ) However, I've printed your answer and can't wait to read it properly. Thank you so much - You are quite right it is pads with carbon. Like I said, I change them regularly and also cleans it weekly (with tank water). As soon as I have properly studied everything, I'll get back to you again. Thx!
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Joliet Jake replied the topic: Re:Why BIO-WHEEL Filters are so GOOD!

PENN,
I believe I figured out why you don't see these over in the UK or outside the US for that matter. It's a relatively new technology and the Bio Wheel is patented and produced only by Marineland and apparenly Marineland does not market their products outside the USA. I'm sure once the patent expires, you will see varriations of the rotating bio wheel from many other manufacturers too. The below from their website:

Marineland's Patented BIO-Wheel A Wet/Dry Revolution

Every closed aquatic life system must include a culture of beneficial bacteria to biologically eliminate toxic ammonia from aquarium water.

In nature, natural biological activity does the job, but in a closed aquarium environment, the nitrogen cycle - the biochemical conversion of ammonia and nitrite into harmless nitrate - must be effectively managed.

BIO-Wheel Keeps It Simple
Nature's solution is simple. So is ours. Water flow drives the BIO-Wheel. As the BIO-Wheel rotates, beneficial bacteria grow and thrive on its surface. Nourished by oxygen, the bacteria eliminate more ammonia and nitrite with every turn. The result is healthy, crystal clear water.

BIO-Wheel Is Reliable
Trapped waste restricts water flow through submerged biological filters such as foams, sponges, UGFs and fluidized bed filters. Ultimately they clog, deteriorate and require service or replacement. What's more, trickle and undergravel filters tend to inefficiently channel water, bypassing filtration media entirely.

BIO-Wheel never clogs, never needs replacing, and requires virtually no maintenance .It utilizes its entire surface area for biological filtration. That means superior, reliable performance for the life of your system - freshwater or marine.

BIO-Wheel Performs

When submerged filters clog, oxygen levels drop dramatically...fish and water quality suffer. That's because frames, foams, fluidized beds, UGFs and other submerged biomedia expose ammonia fighting bacteria only to the small amounts of oxygen in the water. They consume oxygen that would otherwise be available to your fish.

BIO-Wheel never competes with your fish for oxygen. It exposes beneficial bacteria to both water and air, which means far more oxygen... as much as 30,000 times more. More oxygen means more bacteria working many times harder (and many times faster) to keep your tank ammonia-free and sparkling. No breakdowns, no filtration bypass...no other biological filter can match that.

BIO-Wheel Does It Better
Revolutionary BIO-Wheel technology is the core component in virtually everything we do. It's superior biological filtration...a prime example of the innovative expertise that continues to be the trademark of Marineland.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
www.marineland.com/science/pdf/BIOwheel_QA.pdf

MARINELAND HOME PAGE:
www.marineland.com/index.asp

Ken, 51, NJ-USA (2 Tiger Oscars)
Need to give away one healthy 1 year old Oscar if you know of anyone interested. See the adoption thread for photos. Thanks!
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Joliet Jake replied the topic: Re:Why BIO-WHEEL Filters are so GOOD!

FOUND YET ONE MORE RAVE REVIEW OF WHY BIO WHEELS ARE GREAT:

FILTRATION AND THE BIOWHEEL - The Details
The new bio wheel craze has much merit. I know some folks are less aware of this type of filtration. If you don't have a biowheel, your risking the lives of you fish. Time to step it up to the new technology, and so so cheap. Throw your old aquatech crap away.

One thing if I may suggest. I love biowheels. You love biowheels. Only not all biowheels are equal. I think it might help when you make reference to biowheels to specify the major difference. There are 2 main types of biowheels filters on the market currently. EMPEROR and PENGUIN BIO-WHEELS. These 2 filters both use biowheels but there is an extreme difference in quality. I own multiples of both types.

The major difference is the implementation of the biowheel itself. With the Penguin, the water flows freely under the wheel and makes it turn. (this works good for a while but frequently get's stopped up by gunk or baby snails if you have them.) With the Emperor Filter, the Water is actually projected buy a squirting technique at the top of the actual wheel. This causes the biowheel to spin in a different manner. The water forces it to spin from the top down. This spraybar is also ajustable to allow you to set the speed of the spinning of the biowheel. I haven't yet ever seen a Emperor stop spinning. I would suggest that when you make reference to biowheel filters, recommend the EMPEROR for less maintenance and much, much higher quality.

There are a few other reasons that EMPEROR is much better than PENGUIN Filters.
1. The cover is complete. With the Penguin water tends to splash from the wheel spinning. EMPEROR is completely covered.
2. All EMPEROR have a designated media area. Some Penguins don't.
3. EMPEROR's have a flow adjustment tab for regulating flow. Penguins don't.

From experience. Emperor Filters are a much better investment.

There are three stages of aquarium filtration;

Mechanical filtration of water is done by passing the water through a screen, or a thin piece of sponge, or through a floss material, all of which remove pieces of debris from the water.
Chemical filtration of water is done by passing the water through small pieces of carbon or zeolite, which is a natural mineral. The carbon or zeolite remove molecules such as ammonia from the water.
Biological filtration of water is done by certain types of bacteria that live on gravel, the surface of glass, ceramic ornaments, plastic plants, bio-balls, floss, or best of all on BIO-Wheels.
Marineland Penguin BIO-Wheel Power Filters do all THREE!

These bacteria are often called beneficial bacteria in contrast to the pathogenic or harmful bacteria that cause diseases. The beneficial bacteria in biological filters digest waste in the water by combining the waste that is dissolved in the water with oxygen that is also dissolved in the water.

So your typical filter would contain all three. A type of floss, the carbon media found inside the filter pack, or canister, and the bacteria flourishing on it. Your gravel and other items in you system will also include this bacteria. But due to the water movement through the filter, it will have an enormous amount of this beneficial bacteria.

This bacteria needs oxygen to perform its task of converting Ammonia into nitrites then into nitrates. Here is a couple of equations that quite simply express how this is done.

Using the usual symbols for Ammonia NH3, Oxygen O2, Nitrite NO2¯, and Water H2O, the chemical reaction is written as

NH3 + O2 a NO2¯ + H2O + energy

Or equivalently as a chemical equation like this

4 NH3 + 7 O2 = 4 NO2¯ + 6 H2O + energy

Other kinds of beneficial bacteria combine the nitrite and oxygen, that are both dissolved in the water, to produce nitrate and more energy. Using the usual symbol for nitrate NO3¯, the chemical reaction is written as

NO2¯ + O2 a NO3¯ + energy

Or equivalently as an equation like this

2 NO2¯ + O2 = 2 NO3¯ + energy

This brings to the forefront just how important oxygen is to filtration process. Here is where the bio wheels make their bid for supremacy.

A biowheel is placed into the return flow to the tank. Picture a mill wheel with water cascading over it. This is how a biowheel performs. Its constant turning allows it to have a higher concentration of oxygen available for bacteria to do its job. Studies have shown that a typical tank has 7ppm of dissolved O2. Whereas a bio wheel has upwards of 200,000 ppm of O2 available for converting waste!

COURTESY OF:
www.fishdeals.com/equipment/biowheel.shtml

NOTE: Penguin and Emporer are both models of hang on power filters made by Marineland. Currently Marineland seems to have the lock on this technology due to Patents etc. But the reviews I have found are all independent and all readily admit that this is the best form of Biological Filtration made.

Ken, 51, NJ-USA (2 Tiger Oscars)
Need to give away one healthy 1 year old Oscar if you know of anyone interested. See the adoption thread for photos. Thanks!
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